Adventures in Florence and Pisa

Adventures in Florence and Pisa

We left Rome in the early morning and caught the slow train through the stunning Tuscan countryside to Florence. Our Airbnb was located right in the heart of the main square, Piazza della Signoria. How lucky! When we walked out of our front door, we stepped straight into the Piazza; and the beautiful culture and history of Florence. We wandered around the historical centre, taking in the sites, sounds, and smells of the city before making our way to the Scuolo Del Cuoio, the leather school. The leather school opened when many children were orphaned after World War II. It began as a way of providing the orphans with a trade that they can use in adult life. We saw artists at work and admired their intricate leather crafts. In the shop you can purchase items such as handbags, wallets, and belts that are handmade on site.

Fountain of Neptune in the Piazza della Signoria.

Enjoying the amazing sights in Florence.

The entry courtyard to Scuolo Del Cuoio.

We spent the afternoon enjoying the panoramic views over Florence from the Piazzale di Michelangelo. There is a copy of The David that lies at the centre of the square, which is lovely. From the Piazzale, you are met with amazing views of Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo and the Pelazzo Vecchio. With a couple of beers in hand, we watched the sun set, casting it’s golden glow over the picturesque city.

The copy of The David at the centre of Piazzale di Michelangelo.

Jori enjoying his beer and the view!

A beautiful rainbow appeared just as we arrived at the top of the Piazzale!

Photo of Jori and Malika enjoying some beers at the Piazzale di Michelangelo as the sun set in Florence.

So happy to be watching the sunset in Florence!

The view of Ponte Vecchio, Pelazzo Vecchio, and The Duomo as seen from the Piazzale di Michelangelo.

Back in the centre of Florence, we found a place to eat dinner in the Piazza del Duomo. It had outside seating so we could admire the amazing Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (The Duomo, as it is commonly known) whilst we dined. It really is something to behold and very different to the architecture we had seen in Rome.

Our view of the Duomo as we had dinner.

The Uffizi Gallery

Rising early on our second day, we headed straight to the Uffizi Gallery, one of my two favourite galleries that we’ve visited on our travels (the other one is the Orsay Museum in Paris, you can read about that here: Day Two of Our Paris Adventures). The Uffizi holds many of Botticelli’s works and I could not wait to lay eyes on his paintings The Birth of Venus and the Allegory of Spring. It really was a dream come true.

The Uffizi is right around the corner from where we stayed so it was easy to go straight there before having breakfast. We stopped for an espresso and a panini halfway through out visit at the gallery’s café. I had butterflies in my stomach as we walked through the gallery in anticipation of finding Botticelli’s famous paintings. There are so many stunning works in the Uffizi however, so we did take our time to admire them as we moved through the building. My favourites were definitely these two paintings:

The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli

We turned a corner in the gallery and in front of us was The Birth Of Venus. I gasped as soon as I saw it! It’s such a large piece, and the brushwork is soft yet finely detailed. The painting tells the story of Venus, the goddess of love, rising from the ocean. She is depicted standing on a shell on the foreshore, covering her body modestly. The wind blows her hair and a maid waits to dress her. It is definitely one of the most beautiful paintings I have ever seen! I feel VERY lucky to have viewed it in person!

The Birth of Venus, by Botticelli.

The Allegory of Spring by Sandro Botticelli

The Allegory of Spring is another example of Botticelli’s brilliant skill, and a personal favourite of mine. I can’t explain very well what I love about it, but it just does something to me; and I think it is absolutely stunning.

The Allegory of Spring, by Botticelli.

Galleria Dell Accademia

I think it’s safe to say that the main attraction at this gallery is The David by Michelangelo; and honestly everything else was a bit of a blur for me. The David was even more stunning in real life than I ever thought a sculpture could be. It’s location in the Gallery of Academia just enhances it. It is positioned at the cross point of three big corridors. The wall behind it is dome-shaped and natural light pours down from the roof, lighting up the magnificent sculpture. The detail and precision of The David is unfathomable. Words don’t do it justice. Neither do photos. It’s definitely a must see if you’re in Florence.

The David by Michelangelo.

The close up details of The David are amazing!

Up close with The David.

Giotto’s Bell Tower

We made our way towards Giotto’s Bell Tower next. Climbing the bell tower is not for those who are claustrophobic. It’s a very big climb, up countless stairs, but the most challenging part is nearer to the top. The stairwell becomes very small and dark, the steps become almost too narrow to fit a whole foot on, and you eventually have to start squeezing past the hoards of people who are on their way back down to ground level. Yes, there is only the one staircase to enter and exit the tower.

The Duomo, as seen from Giotto’s Bell Tower.

Whilst we were climbing it, it became very tight and crowded, Jori was ahead of me and I lost sight of him at one point as we had to keep stopping to let people squeeze past us on their way down. I eventually ended up bending over and crawling my way up on my hands and feet. I was on the narrowest part of the staircase so this seemed my safest option. Even with the stresses of the climb and being super puffed, it is well worth it once you reach the top. We loved it because it gave us such great views of The Duomo.

This is how high we were at the top of the tower!

BYD Tip

Take your time to rest, relax, and enjoy the view up there because remember, you have to head back down that staircase when you’re done!

After climbing back down the tower, we wandered the streets to Ponte Vecchio, that quaint and colourful bridge that I’m sure you’ve seen in pictures. It’s gorgeous, and is lined with little shops. We took our time to enjoy walking over the bridge, soaking up the history and the atmosphere.

I had spied a restaurant on the other side of the River Arno with a terrace for outside seating. The terrace overlooked the water and I had my heart set on having an aperitif in the golden sunset light. We managed to get a table with a view of Ponte Vecchio in one direction and in the other direction we could see straight down the river. Magnifico!

Walking across Ponte Vecchio.

Jori enjoying the view.

The view of Ponte Vecchio from the restaurant.

A gorgeous Florentine sunset.

Dinner at I’ Mangiarino

I was determined to find a really authentic restaurant, in terms of the food and the atmosphere, whilst we were travelling in Italy. On our second evening in Florence, I found a true gem! I’ Mangiarino. It is still the best restaurant we have been to in the Northern Hemisphere! I found it on trip advisor after some very extensive research.

I knew as soon as we reached the front door of the restaurant that it was perfect. There was nothing flashy or overly fancy about it; it was warm, cozy, and utterly delightful. The small dining area was adorned with rustic décor. Jori had a beautifully cooked steak with delicious, flavoursome potatoes, I had ravioli, and we shared a salad. After our meal we were given a Limoncello on the house. The food was divine.

It looks simple but it was so incredible!

With our hearts, and stomachs full and wholly satisfied, we wandering through the gorgeous streets back to our Airbnb. We were truly contented, and ready for a peaceful sleep.

Pisa

Our last day in the magical city of Florence was upon us. We jumped on a bus and went for an early morning trip to the iconic town of Pisa and it’s leaning tower. The bus from Florence drops you just a short five-minute walk from the Leaning Tower of Pisa, so it’s very convenient and hassle-free. Of course, our first activity was to take some obligatory Leaning Tower of Pisa photos, where we tried to hold the tower up or push it down. We weren’t very successful and they didn’t turn out too well, but it was worth the laugh!

The Leaning Tower of Pisa.

The tower itself is a fair bit smaller than I imagined, but this also means that it’s a fairly easy climb to the top. As you climb you can stop at the first level to take a closer look at the bells. From the top of the tower you can see the Pisan Mountains that divide the towns of Lucca and Pisa. They are quite close by so it is a wonderful sight to take in.

Jori and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

The view of the Pisan Mountains from the top of the Leaning Tower.

The Leaning Tower and Pisa Cathedral.

BYD Tip

There’s only a certain amount of people allowed up the tower at one time so it’s worth getting there early or booking online if you’re on a tight schedule.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is located in the Campo dei Miracoli, meaning Field of Miracles. It is one of four buildings in the square, and we explored these after descending the tower.

Pisa Baptistery.

Campo Santo (meaning holy field) holds ancient sarcophagi.

Pisa Cathedral and Baptistery.

Inside the Campo Santo.

Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore (The Duomo)

The Duomo, as seen from Giotto’s Bell Tower.

Back in Florence, we went to visit the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore, commonly known as The Duomo. The dome of the Basilica is gorgeous, with beautiful circular frescos adorning its surface. You can climb A LOT of stairs to get to the top of the dome and take a closer look. Climbing to the top also provides incredible views over all of Florence.

This is just one of the breathtaking views from the Duomo.

The frescoes on the ceiling of the dome.

We could see the piazza where we were staying!

Before we knew it, it was time for our last evening meal in Florence, so we made our way once more to I’ Mangiarino. We were adamant that we were going to end our trip in Florence with a feast at our favourite restaurant! And we did! We got so overly excited with our ordering the waitress had to tell us it was too much. So we cancelled some items! To start we had a cheese platter, the flavours were out of this world! We both had pasta for our main meal, and for desert we shared a berry Panna Cotta and a Tiramisu. To drink we shared a Peroni and then polished off a decanter of devine red wine. Oh my, it was so good!

Loving the wine, beer, and atmosphere at I’ Mangiarino.

Jori was super happy to be back at our favourite restaurant!

The most tasty and flavoursome cheese we’ve ever had!

Delicious pasta!

When we got back to the Piazza della Signoria, we were enticed once more into a romantic restaurant. As if we hadn’t just eaten enough! From our table in the restaurant we could sit and watch the Piazza. The waiter approached us and we ordered two hot chocolates. Jori asked if he could recommend a liquor to go in the hot chocolate, other than the standard Baileys. The man made a suggestion, rolling his ‘R’ so vehemently that we were both mesmerised and said together “ooohhhh yes, that sounds good.” When our hot chocolates arrived we took our first sip of the liquor, looked at each other, and said “Oh…rum,” and burst out laughing. Not so romantic afterall. We ended up with two very intense and strong rum hot choccies. But we still laugh about that moment so there’s no harm done.

Our “rrrrrum” hot chocolates and some other tasty delights!

So it was buona notte (good night) Florence, thanks for wine-ing and dining us, we will miss you!

You can read about a next adventure here: A Day in Naples – Pompeii and Pizza.

We left Rome in the early morning and caught the slow train through the stunning Tuscan countryside to Florence. Our Airbnb was located right in the heart of the main square, Piazza della Signoria. How lucky! When we walked out of our front door, we stepped straight into the Piazza; and the beautiful culture and history of Florence. We wandered around the historical centre, taking in the sites, sounds, and smells of the city before making our way to the Scuolo Del Cuoio, the leather school. The leather school opened when many children were orphaned after World War II. It began as a way of providing the orphans with a trade that they can use in adult life. We saw artists at work and admired their intricate leather crafts. In the shop you can purchase items such as handbags, wallets, and belts that are handmade on site.

Photo of a courtyard at the entrance to the leather school in Florence, Italy.

The entry courtyard to Scuolo Del Cuoio.
(Tap the image for more photos)

Photo of Jori standing under a huge archway in Florence, Italy.
Photo of the Fountain of Neptune in the Piazza della Signoria in Florence, Italy

We spent the afternoon enjoying the panoramic views over Florence from the Piazzale di Michelangelo. There is a copy of The David that lies at the centre of the square, which is lovely. From the Piazzale, you are met with amazing views of Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo and the Pelazzo Vecchio. With a couple of beers in hand, we watched the sun set, casting it’s golden glow over the picturesque city.

Photo of a copy of The David in the Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence, Italy.

The copy of The David at the centre of Piazzale di Michelangelo.
(Tap the image for more photos)

Photo of Jori having a beer and watching the sunset from the Piazzale di Michelangelo in Florence, Italy.
Photo of a rainbow in Florence, Italy.
Photo of Jori and Malika enjoying some beers at the Piazzale di Michelangelo as the sun set in Florence.
Photo of Florence from the Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence, Italy.

The view of Ponte Vecchio, Pelazzo Vecchio, and The Duomo as seen from the Piazzale di Michelangelo.

Back in the centre of Florence, we found a place to eat dinner in the Piazza del Duomo. It had outside seating so we could admire the amazing Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (The Duomo, as it is commonly known) whilst we dined. It really is something to behold and very different to the architecture we had seen in Rome.

Photo of the Duomo in Florence, Italy.

Our view of the Duomo as we had dinner.

The Uffizi Gallery

Rising early on our second day, we headed straight to the Uffizi Gallery, one of my two favourite galleries that we’ve visited on our travels (the other one is the Orsay Museum in Paris, you can read about that here: Day Two of Our Paris Adventures). The Uffizi holds many of Botticelli’s works and I could not wait to lay eyes on his paintings The Birth of Venus and the Allegory of Spring. It really was a dream come true.

The Uffizi is right around the corner from where we stayed so it was easy to go straight there before having breakfast. We stopped for an espresso and a panini halfway through out visit at the gallery’s café. I had butterflies in my stomach as we walked through the gallery in anticipation of finding Botticelli’s famous paintings. There are so many stunning works in the Uffizi however, so we did take our time to admire them as we moved through the building. My favourites were definitely these two paintings:

The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli

We turned a corner in the gallery and in front of us was The Birth Of Venus. I gasped as soon as I saw it! It’s such a large piece, and the brushwork is soft yet finely detailed. The painting tells the story of Venus, the goddess of love, rising from the ocean. She is depicted standing on a shell on the foreshore, covering her body modestly. The wind blows her hair and a maid waits to dress her. It is definitely one of the most beautiful paintings I have ever seen! I feel VERY lucky to have viewed it in person!

Photo of Botticelli's painting The Birth of Venus at the Uffizi Gallery

The Birth of Venus, by Botticelli.

The Allegory of Spring by Sandro Botticelli

The Allegory of Spring is another example of Botticelli’s brilliant skill, and a personal favourite of mine. I can’t explain very well what I love about it, but it just does something to me; and I think it is absolutely stunning.

Photo of Botticelli's painting The Allegory of Spring at the Uffizi Gallery

The Allegory of Spring, by Botticelli.

Galleria Dell Accademia

I think it’s safe to say that the main attraction at this gallery is The David by Michelangelo; and honestly everything else was a bit of a blur for me. The David was even more stunning in real life than I ever thought a sculpture could be. It’s location in the Gallery of Academia just enhances it. It is positioned at the cross point of three big corridors. The wall behind it is dome-shaped and natural light pours down from the roof, lighting up the magnificent sculpture. The detail and precision of The David is unfathomable. Words don’t do it justice. Neither do photos. It’s definitely a must see if you’re in Florence.

Close up Photo of the David in the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence, Italy.

Up close with The David.
(Tap the image for more photos)

Photo of the David in the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence, Italy.
Close up photo showing the detail of the hand of The David by Michelangelo in the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence, Italy.

Giotto’s Bell Tower

We made our way towards Giotto’s Bell Tower next. Climbing the bell tower is not for those who are claustrophobic. It’s a very big climb, up countless stairs, but the most challenging part is nearer to the top. The stairwell becomes very small and dark, the steps become almost too narrow to fit a whole foot on, and you eventually have to start squeezing past the hoards of people who are on their way back down to ground level. Yes, there is only the one staircase to enter and exit the tower.

A photo looking up to the top of the Duomo from Giotto's bell tower in Florence, Italy.

The Duomo, as seen from Giotto’s Bell Tower.

Whilst we were climbing it, it became very tight and crowded, Jori was ahead of me and I lost sight of him at one point as we had to keep stopping to let people squeeze past us on their way down. I eventually ended up bending over and crawling my way up on my hands and feet. I was on the narrowest part of the staircase so this seemed my safest option. Even with the stresses of the climb and being super puffed, it is well worth it once you reach the top. We loved it because it gave us such great views of The Duomo.

Photo of the view of the ground from the top of Giotto's Bell Tower in Florence, Italy

This is how high we were at the top of the tower!

BYD Tip

Take your time to rest, relax, and enjoy the view up there because remember, you have to head back down that staircase when you’re done!

After climbing back down the tower, we wandered the streets to Ponte Vecchio, that quaint and colourful bridge that I’m sure you’ve seen in pictures. It’s gorgeous, and is lined with little shops. We took our time to enjoy walking over the bridge, soaking up the history and the atmosphere.

I had spied a restaurant on the other side of the River Arno with a terrace for outside seating. The terrace overlooked the water and I had my heart set on having an aperitif in the golden sunset light. We managed to get a table with a view of Ponte Vecchio in one direction and in the other direction we could see straight down the river. Magnifico!

Photo of Ponte Vecchio from the balcony of a restaurant in Florence, Italy.

The view of Ponte Vecchio from the restaurant.
(Tap the image for more photos)

Photo looking down Ponte Vecchio as we walked across it in Florence, Italy.
Photo of Jori watching the sunset from the balcony of a restaurant in Florence, Italy.
Photo of a sunset over the River Arno in Florence, Italy

Dinner at I’ Mangiarino

I was determined to find a really authentic restaurant, in terms of the food and the atmosphere, whilst we were travelling in Italy. On our second evening in Florence, I found a true gem! I’ Mangiarino. It is still the best restaurant we have been to in the Northern Hemisphere! I found it on trip advisor after some very extensive research.

I knew as soon as we reached the front door of the restaurant that it was perfect. There was nothing flashy or overly fancy about it; it was warm, cozy, and utterly delightful. The small dining area was adorned with rustic décor. Jori had a beautifully cooked steak with delicious, flavoursome potatoes, I had ravioli, and we shared a salad. After our meal we were given a Limoncello on the house. The food was divine.

Photo of pasta, steak, and a lovely salad at I' Mangiarino in Florence, Italy.

It looks simple but it was so incredible!

With our hearts, and stomachs full and wholly satisfied, we wandering through the gorgeous streets back to our Airbnb. We were truly contented, and ready for a peaceful sleep.

Pisa

Our last day in the magical city of Florence was upon us. We jumped on a bus and went for an early morning trip to the iconic town of Pisa and it’s leaning tower. The bus from Florence drops you just a short five-minute walk from the Leaning Tower of Pisa, so it’s very convenient and hassle-free. Of course, our first activity was to take some obligatory Leaning Tower of Pisa photos, where we tried to hold the tower up or push it down. We weren’t very successful and they didn’t turn out too well, but it was worth the laugh!

Photo of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa.

The tower itself is a fair bit smaller than I imagined, but this also means that it’s a fairly easy climb to the top. As you climb you can stop at the first level to take a closer look at the bells. From the top of the tower you can see the Pisan Mountains that divide the towns of Lucca and Pisa. They are quite close by so it is a wonderful sight to take in.

Photo of Jori up close at the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy.

Jori and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
(Tap the image for more photos)

Photo of the Pisan Mountains from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Photo of the Leaning Tower and Pisa Cathedral in Pisa, Italy.

BYD Tip

There’s only a certain amount of people allowed up the tower at one time so it’s worth getting there early or booking online if you’re on a tight schedule.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is located in the Campo dei Miracoli, meaning Field of Miracles. It is one of four buildings in the square, and we explored these after descending the tower.

Photo of the Campo Santo building in Pisa, Italy.

Campo Santo (meaning holy field) holds ancient sarcophagi.
(Tap the image for more photos)

Photo of frescoes and sarcophagi inside the Campo Santa in Pisa, Italy.
Photo of the Pisa Baptistery in Italy.
Photo of the Pisa Cathedral and Baptistery in Italy.

Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore (The Duomo)

Photo of the Duomo as seen from the bell tower in Florence, Italy

The Duomo, as seen from Giotto’s Bell Tower.

Back in Florence, we went to visit the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore, commonly known as The Duomo. The dome of the Basilica is gorgeous, with beautiful circular frescos adorning its surface. You can climb A LOT of stairs to get to the top of the dome and take a closer look. Climbing to the top also provides incredible views over all of Florence.

Photo of the frescoes adorning the ceiling of the Duomo in Florence, Italy

The frescoes on the ceiling of the dome.
(Tap the image for more photos)

Photo of the view over Florence from the top of the Duomo.
Photo of Palazzo Vecchio from the Duomo in Florence, Italy.

Before we knew it, it was time for our last evening meal in Florence, so we made our way once more to I’ Mangiarino. We were adamant that we were going to end our trip in Florence with a feast at our favourite restaurant! And we did! We got so overly excited with our ordering the waitress had to tell us it was too much. So we cancelled some items! To start we had a cheese platter, the flavours were out of this world! We both had pasta for our main meal, and for desert we shared a berry Panna Cotta and a Tiramisu. To drink we shared a Peroni and then polished off a decanter of devine red wine. Oh my, it was so good!

Photo of Malika at I' Mangiarino in Florence, Italy

Loving the wine, beer, and atmosphere at I’ Mangiarino.
(Tap the image for more photos)

Photo of a cheese platter at I' Mangiarino in Florence, Italy.
Photo of our pasta dishes at I' Mangiarino in Florence, Italy.

When we got back to the Piazza della Signoria, we were enticed once more into a romantic restaurant. As if we hadn’t just eaten enough! From our table in the restaurant we could sit and watch the Piazza. The waiter approached us and we ordered two hot chocolates. Jori asked if he could recommend a liquor to go in the hot chocolate, other than the standard Baileys. The man made a suggestion, rolling his ‘R’ so vehemently that we were both mesmerised and said together “ooohhhh yes, that sounds good.” When our hot chocolates arrived we took our first sip of the liquor, looked at each other, and said “Oh…rum,” and burst out laughing. Not so romantic afterall. We ended up with two very intense and strong rum hot choccies. But we still laugh about that moment so there’s no harm done.

Photo of Rum hot chocolates and desserts in Piazza della Signoria, Florence.

Our “rrrrrum” hot chocolates and some other tasty delights!

So it was buona notte (good night) Florence, thanks for wine-ing and dining us, we will miss you!

You can read about a next adventure here: A Day in Naples – Pompeii and Pizza.

By | 2018-06-06T19:40:58+00:00 October 19th, 2016|Italy, Malika, Travel|2 Comments

2 Comments

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  2. Krystyna March 15, 2019 at 1:36 pm - Reply

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